Every time I or my team speaks to a restaurateur about their online presence, the response is almost uniform – “we are listed on Zomato and that is really good for our business”.
This seemed to be odd as many restaurateurs in personal discussions have lamented on Zomato’s user reviews. Most had complained to me that the user reviews are not fair or consistent.
One of them bemoaned “A Zomato reviewer had written that our taxes are too high! I don’t set taxes, the government does”. Another restaurant had a series of poor ratings (under 3) and bad reviews. I was surprised as the restaurant served excellent buffets and the quality and ambiance was great. Also, the restaurant’s Facebook pages received daily likes and positive reviews.
The User Review Riddle
Clearly, there were many issues that just didn’t seem right. So, we decided to run a poll on Facebook in the group ‘Secret Sauce Behind a Successful Restaurant’. The findings of the poll confirmed my belief.
User reviews probably do more damage to your F&B business
In the poll, 29% said that user reviews are unfair and can be manipulated. This seems to be an abnormally high figure. Over 23% felt that user reviews are written by competitors. 16% felt that user reviews were killing their business.
A whopping 69% felt that user reviews were unfair.
Only 22% felt that user reviews were great for their business and 9% felt that the reviews were fair and cannot be manipulated.
What do user reviews do for your business?
Zomato has a huge following. If you are the lucky one which has good ratings and reviews, then your business will benefit from it tremendously. As people read the good or great reviews, they will flock to your eatery and you’ll profit.
However, if you are amongst the unlucky ones with bad reviews and ratings, then chances are you are losing business regularly. Those reviews, instead of increasing footfalls to your eatery, are driving customers away. This can lead to a dangerous spiral downwards.
Are User Reviews Good?
User reviews can be an important feedback system and can help restaurants focus on their weaknesses and improve. High quality, detailed reviews are good even if these are negative and critical. It is also a great way to connect with dissatisfied customers and you have an opportunity to convert customers to fans and champions.
How to counter negative restaurant reviews?
If you feel that your eatery is getting unfair treatment in the hands of the reviewers then you need to bolster yourself online.
A simple strategy is to tell your story on as many online platforms as possible. Start off with building your website. It’s inexpensive and very effective. Then start working on your Facebook page – it costs nothing to start it off.
Look out for platforms which allow you to present your restaurant’s viewpoint. Remember, the more others are writing against you online, the more you need to tell your story.